Hey everyone. A slight update on whats happening with Waiting for the Doctor. Menoth22 is getting all stabby with his ISP, who have been dicking him around, so hes asked me to fill in and keep posting episode reviews until he gets a handle on things. I’m going to be picking up where he left off because it wasn’t fair to leave you on tenderhooks after the cliffhanger ending of The Empty Child 😉
Now, a small disclaimer. Though I grew up watching OldWho (?), my “first” Doctor was the 9th, as I’m of that era and I like the slightly rough and ready (though immediately dated) look that RTD brought to the first series of NuWho. In particular, I like Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, which marks me out as in the minority of the Doctor Who fanbase. So whilst you are going to be getting the same honest reviews Menoth22 brought you, be aware that I’m probably going to be more gentle on the series than needed, though I will flag this up from time to time.
Also, before this I watched series 7: part 2. So anything looks good in comparison.
So, The Doctor Dances. An episode about banging, that can’t mention banging. The Empty Child Left us on a bit of a cliffhanger with a bunch of gasmasked zombies closing in on the Doctor and his companions, the lovely Rose Tyler and Captain Jack. With seemingly no escape, the Doctor does what anyone reasonable would do, which is to angrily tell them to go to their rooms. Which, as you would expect, works.
You see, it seems that the gas masked child is linked to all the others and controls them by seeing through their eyes. The opposite works too, so if any of the others are given commands, he obeys too as he is them. How does that work? Magic I suppose. At least Moffat was leaving his cards all out on the table when we first met him.
So back to the plot- Nancy has been cornered by the people whose house she robbed until she lets slip that she known one of them has been knocking off the baker down the road- and its a man. Ohh er missus (for all those fact fans out there, this part marks the beginning of the noted internet meme that the BBC/RTD was attempting to push a ‘gay agenda’ upon Doctor Who fans)!
The Doctor and his companions explore the hospital and find where ‘patient zero’ of the epidemic was confined for a time, just in time to realise their error. They sent him back to his room. Which is the room they just trapped themselves in. Cue some running away, via the handy sonic blaster that Jack carries on him. Also the last Sonic Blaster in the universe we find out, thanks to the Doctor.
A tumble or two (and one inevitable penis size metaphor) later and everyone is off to the crash site to try and stop the spread of the virus, which has now gone airborne. Captain Jack tries his charm out on the guards, but it turns out that gasmask monsters aren’t so impressed by his assets.
The Doctor finally gets a look at the ship and its a medical ship, which was full to the brim with nanites, small machines that can rewrite your bodies makeup and even bring the dead back to life, which are the cause of the gasmask monsters. With the nanites believing a dead boy was how people should look, the set off to repair all the ‘damaged’ people on earth. With a German bomb about to fall and destroy the only chance of saving the human race, Captain Jack takes that moment to run away, because hes not yet invincible and saw how long Adam Mitchell lasted.
Some talking about emotions and technobabble and the day is saved with the Doctor going all DragonBall Z on us, much to the doctors delight.
The episode seems to close on a downer, with Captain Jack (who came through in the end and took the bomb off into outer space) enjoying a martini as he watches the timer count down to the stasis field failing and the bomb going off on board a ship he can’t escape from. The sound of Glen Millar soon changes things though, as the Doctor and Rose have come to save him. The episode ends with some horrible dancing as is the fashion for the Doctor and the introduction of Jack as a proper companion alongside Rose.
This episode was frankly a great one. Though it does get a bit silly with all the innuendo flying thick and fast, the rest of the episode makes up for it. This was the episode that first cemented Steven Moffat’s reputation in the Doctor Who fanbase as a good writer and hats off to him, he is. The story managed to match quiet desperation, very dark themes with an almost action movie style pacing and a great payoff, as the Doctor exclaims that “Just this once, everyone lives!”, something that wouldn’t make much sense until later seasons when we got more information about the Time War and the Doctors involvement in it.
Its obvious why Eccleston was chosen for this role, for as a regeneration born in the fires of war, his obvious joy and more militaristic leanings match the new show, which is all all about stripping the fat from the old style Doctor Who episodes to create lean, fast paced episodes that still stay true to the ethos of the show. Eccleston is very adept at switching between joyful and cheeky, whilst reminding us that beneath it all is a anger ready to burst out at any moment.
Still, there are hints that this Doctor is about enabling people to reach their potential rather than doing it all himself, as the key parts of the episode (the escape in the hospital, the nanites being reconfigured, the catching of the bomb) were all done by those around him, after he showed them they can be better people.
John Barrowman was, of course, a joy to watch and whilst Billie Piper wasn’t given as much to do, she still had a few quieter moments with Nancy that showed off why it was the Doctor chose her.
This episode is a great one, and is clearly a standout of the first season and showed the two parters were the way forward for RTD’s run.
Next time: Boom Town.